New Delhi: The arrest of 22-year-old activist Disha Ravi from Bengaluru over a "toolkit" tweeted by climate campaigner Greta Thunberg has not just generated waves of outrage but has also raised questions on the procedure.
Disha Ravi had no legal counsel when she was produced in court yesterday and sent to five days in police custody. She was arrested on Saturday afternoon from her home in Bengaluru and brought to Delhi, where she was charged with sedition and conspiracy.
According to Disha Ravi's legal team, her lawyers were not aware of which court she was to be produced in and she argued her own case in court. There are also questions on whether rules were followed when she was taken by the Delhi Police from Bengaluru.
In a post, lawyer Rebecca John has alleged "shocking abdication of judicial duties". According to her, the magistrate at Delhi's Patiala House court failed to ensure that Disha Ravi had legal representation in court.
"Deeply disappointed by the conduct of the duty magistrate...who remanded a young woman to five days in police custody, without first ensuring that she was being represented by counsel," Ms John wrote.
"Magistrates must take their duties of remand seriously and ensure that the mandate of Article 22 of the constitution is scrupulously followed," she said.
If the accused was not being represented by counsel at the time of the hearing, the magistrate should have waited till her counsel arrived or, in the alternate, provided her with legal aid, Ms John wrote.
"Where the case diaries and the arrest memo examined? Did the magistrate ask the special cell why she was being produced directly from Bangalore without a transit remand from Bangalore courts?"
The young student of Mount Carmel College is the first to be arrested in the case involving a "Toolkit" for supporting farmer protests shared by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg. The case was filed earlier this month, after international tweets on the farmer protests drew a sharp backlash in India, including pushback from the government and several celebrities.
The police say the "Toolkit" was written by a Khalistani group. Yesterday, they alleged that Disha Ravi was a key conspirator involved in preparing and spreading the document, in an attempt to revive a Khalistani group.
"I did not make Toolkit. We wanted to support the farmers. I edited two lines on February 3," Disha Ravi told the court on Sunday.
The police said Disha started a WhatsApp Group and collaborated in making the Toolkit document. "In this process, they all collaborated with pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State," the police tweeted.